tv Charlie Rose PBS January 11, 2011 11:00pm-12:00am EST
>> rose: welcome to our program. tonight david brooks, david remnick and james fallows on the anticipated speech by president obama in tucson. and with the national conversation might be. >> if we look historically we know that fevered political talk that as we go unanswered can have consequences. if you look in the mid-'90s in israel when baby netanyahu would speak to large crowds and in those crowds, not a majority but a sizable minority would sometimes hold up pictures of yitzhak rabin in a nazi outfit and you would hear chants of "death to rabin." this contributed to a fevered atmosphere that led to the assassination of itzhak rabin. >> i disagree. i think fevered rhetoric has to do with rabin's assassination, i
don't think it had anything to do in tucson. what do we know about the man? it's important to stick to the evidence we have. the evidence we have about jared loughner is he had grave concerns about the government controlling his mind, he was struggling to gain control of his mind, he issued a video called "my last thoughts" in which he said "we have to have a currency to control our mind, the government is trying to control our grammar. we know he had an obsession with the government. we know he had an obsession with the congresswoman and that he went to a meeting of hers and asked her "what if words have no meaning" and apparently her answer to this somewhat nonsensical question didn't satisfy him and he developed anger out of that. >> the president can use this as an occasion to talk about the general tone of civil discourse in the country. he doesn't have to say there's a cause and effect connection but he can say naturally our thoughts turn that way. and this, then, i think leads to one of his classic strengths as the title of dave remnick's book "the bridge" illustrates he has been known through his time in the public stage as a person who can find a way to reconcile.
>> rose: and then the question of the suspect, jared lee loughner, we talk about his profile with roger depue, formerly of the f.b.i., and dr. jeffrey liebermann, a psychiatrist at columbia university. >> usually when one of these situations happens, the... you'll hear in the media that this was a nice quiet boy that never created any problem but then after a few days go by we begin to see that there were a number of these indicators, warning signs. cho or harris and klebold, of course, had a web side where... it was just filled with angry denunciations of classmates and people in general and how they would like to kill people. so some of the things that we would look for and what we would see and hear, if there are 25
indicators, general indicators, this shooter had about 10 or 12 of the 25. >> there's i think sufficient information that's available by virtue of people who knew him, students that were classmates with him, teachers that has been... what his parents reported. his postings on the internet, his youtube to say that a high probability or almost a certainty that he suffered from a severe mental disorder almost certainly psychotic disorder and of the psychotic disorders, the most likely candidate given his age and his manifestations is schizophrenia. >> rose: more from tucson next. maybe you want school kids to have more exposure to the arts. maybe you want to provide meals for the needy. or maybe you want to help when the unexpected happens. whatever you want to do, members project from american express
can help you take the first step. vote, volunteer, or donate for the causes you believe in at membersproject.com. take charge of making a difference. additional funding provided by these funders: captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin this evening with our continuing coverage of the tragic shootings in arizona. reports they congresswoman giffords is breathing on her own and responding to commands but that her life continues to hang in the balance. tomorrow president obama will go
to tucson. the question is, what should he say to reach out to a wounded neighborhood and an anguished nation? this is a challenge other recent presidents have faced. take a look. >> the crew of the space shuttle "challenger" honored us with the manner which they lived their lives. we will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them this morning as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of god. thank you. >> one thing we owe those who have sacrificed is the duty to purge ourselves of the dark forces which gave rise to this evil. (applause) they are forces that threaten our common peace, our freedom,
our way of life. lott us teach our children that the god of comfort is also the god of righteousness. those who trouble their own house will inherit the wind. justice will prevail. >> rose: joining me now is david remnick, the editor-in-chief of the "new yorker" magazine. his biography of president obama "the bridge" is now out in paper back. from san francisco, david brooks of the "new york times." an exert of his new book about the brain will appear in next week's new yorker magazine ed ted by the aforementioned david remnick. from washington, jim fallows of the "atlantic" magazine. i'm pleased to have each of them on this program and i raise this question: what ought to be the tenor and the conversation in the country and what you would what should the president speak to? >> well, i'm in no position to command, but... god knows. but i do think it's interesting that he's in this position now, in this tragic moment and maybe
even at a decisive moment about political rhetoric. it's an incredibly complicated political decision he faces in terms of what he says or doesn't say and it it's also an incredibly complicated issue of what we are to make of the madness that happened a few days ago. we can't say for a certainty what happened inside this man's fevered mind. what sickness contributed to it, what rhetoric contributed to it. but if we look historically we know that fevered political talk that goes unanswered can have consequences. if you look in the mid-'90s in israel, when bibinetanyahu would speak to large crowds and in those crowds not a majority but a sizable minority would sometimes hold up picture of itzhak rabin in a nazi outfit and you would hear chants of "death to rabin."
this contributed to a fevered atmosphere that led to the assassination of itzhak rabin. and we saw in the pakistan just recently as well when the leaders of major groups get up and talk about killing or getting rid of or purging that particular politician, it is a sere. what happened in tucson i think is something that the president would be wise to put a name to precisely. but we should remember also that one of obama's great virtues-- those who support him thought-- was his temperament. was his attention to political rhetoric. and he was mocked for it at times for being thoughty and above it all and the rest. but i think tonally at least, it would be a good thing to have a reset dial here. again, i don't want to say that this contributed, it was the absolute reason that this man went off and did this horrendous
thing in tucson. i'm not sure that we can know this at all. but there's no question that the combination of technology, fever politics. and i have to say that i see it more on the right than i do on the left although nobody has an absolute monopoly on it has contributed to a really unfortunate atmosphere. >> i guess i disagree. i do think fevered rhetoric had something to do with rabin's assassination. i don't see any evidence that it had to do what w what we had in tucson? what do we know about the man? i think it's important to stick to the evidence we have. the evidence we have about jared loughner is that first of all he had grave concerns about the government controlling his mind. he was struggling to gain control of his mind. he issued a video called "my last thoughts" in which he said "we have to have a currency to control our mind. the government is trying to control our grammar." we know he had an obsession with the government. we know he had an obsession with the congresswoman and that he went to a meeting of hers and asked her "what if words have no
meaning?" and apparently her answer to this somewhat nonsensical question didn't satisfy him and he developed some anger out of that. so to me what he was practicing was nothing like politics as we normally understand it. we have no evidence that he was affected by the larger political climate which god knows i don't approve of but we have no evidence that it's germane in this case. so if i was president obama i think the first thing obviously has to do is register the shock that when you have a normal event, a politician at a supermarket greeting volters and when the horror erupts he has to register that shock. secondly he has to celebrate public service and people go out in crowds and take tough positions and harbor the literal and metaphorical slings and arrows. but i think finally if there is a political ramification i think we need to have a conversation on how we treat people who are suffering from mental illness. 99% of them not violent at all. people under treatment not
violent at all. but there's a small, small minority who sometimes become violent and do we need to get more aggressive in giving them sometimes involuntary treatment? making sure they stay on medications? i think if there's a political ramification, which i'm not sure there is, that's the kind of conversation we need to have. >> rose: jim? >> i think in this theory of reconciliation that we'll have on the show i'd like to combine what the two davids have said. on the one hand i agree with david brooks that it's important to be agnostic about this particular case. no one knows what was going on in this man's mind and we may never know. but i think the president can use this as an occasion to talk about the general tone of civil discourse in this country. he doesn't have to say there's a cause and effect but he can say naturally our thoughts turn this way. this leads to one of his classic strengths as the title of dave remnick's book "the bridge" illustrates is he has been known as a person who can find a way to reconcile. i was intrigued to see that clip from bill clinton because i think in two ways that indicates
a challenge that president obama has. one is bill clinton got a round of sober applause for talking about the dark forces that brought this tragedy upon us and we recognize now that 15 plus years late that would be seen as almost a partisan divisive line the way that this event has been discussed the last day or so. also the very fact that bill clinton and ronald reagan before him had had these moments of national solemnity and commemoration at times of tragedy in a way makes people suspicious of too much eloquence by president obama in this case. there is a precedent for this. so i think it will be a very difficult speech for him to pull off but one that should play to all the ways in which he has been best through his past life and oratorical life as well of rising to this kind of challenge of saying let us think again about how we do business together as a nation on this occasion. >> i agree and i want to be clear that i'm completely agnostic on this guy's motivations. it seems he was suffering from terrible mental illness. i would disagree on one point
that i do think there is a political ramification and it's the same old one that we have every time something like this happens and we go through a spasm of concern and then it fades and that's guns. the availability of guns in a place like arizona is rife and i... all kinds of factors that you see in our country, whether it's mental illness or whether it's hate speech or whether it's a fevered atmosphere in the media, whatever it may be, it exists in other places and they exist in other places like england and you don't have a murder rate in england the way you do here so far as i know or record of assassinations quite what we see because of the availability of guns. so that is a political ramification. i don't expect to see the president making great political hay of any of these things tomorrow. i think that jim and david are both right that mainly it will be an emotional speech and feeling of solidarity both with
the people there and public service in general. >> i agree on the gun issue how this kid was able to get a gun is one of the great tragedies that led up to this. the other thing which interests me about how he'll do with it, one of the speeches which is somewhat reminiscent is george w. bush's september 20 speech after 9/11. what was striking there was he had a moral cosmos which he could fit 9/11 into and it was the language of good and evil. and how you impose a moral cosmos on this event is actually a very tricky thing. how you talk about god, god's role in the universe, the justice of the universe, the fairness of the universe. and how you impose that order to make sense of what happened is very problematic thing for a theologian, but i'll have b very curious to know how barack obama tries to deal with this issue. he's talked to me and others about reinhold niebuhr and the sinfulness of man. whether he tries to put that lens on this event will be something i'll be curious about.
it's something he's done in the past. it's something i think president bush would have done naturally, whether he'll try to do in the this case, whether he'll use theological language is something i'm curious about. >> rose: and you suggest that he should? >> if he can make sense of it. i'm not sure i'd want to take that assignment. it's a very famously tough assignment to make moral sense out of this. but i do think people want to have a sense of how he sees the hand of god in events. they want to know was this kid an evil kid? a diseased kid? do we hold him responseable? do we not? these are extremely difficult questions and i do think people want to have a sense not only the president emotes with them but also has the same moral substructure they that they do. and this is not a political question it's a question of what is the nature of his moral substructure? >> rose: he has said already in several instances that he wants to talk to his children that he
looks at this as a father and he has second spoken to the qualities of the people on the ground there and not to forget that. >> and classically the role of a president in times of crisis is to be the father figure. he can't do that truly, of course, but that's the tone he'd like to strike. and to say... to continue what david brooks was saying, i think there is a moral order in which this might be able to fit president obama in the same way the wonderful september 20 speech of george w. bush's fit for him. which is, again, his theme of morality through his time in public life has been how we treat each other. the nature of our polity, how we resolve our differences. how we rise the fact that there are differences, how we treat people who are troubled so i think it should be with the lightest of purely theological touches something that could call out what has been oratorally and intellectually his best over the years. one other point if i could say about david remnick's point on the guns. we all have seen politics over
the years. i have placed myself in the entirely fatalistic camp on whether the united states will ever have any different policy on guns. perhaps we can talk about these extended load clips or something like that. but otherwise it just seems to me a permanent condition of our... a permanent and tragic part of our conditions. i don't know that there's anything to do about it. >> rose: should the country have a serious conversation about the nature of political rhetoric here? >> we absolutely have to. and, you know... but very often when that conversation is introduced-- and, by the way, this was a very powerful theme of obama's about tone and rhetoric. and if you read both of his... especially his second book, which is kind of derided as the sort of lesser of his two books, that's a pro dominant theme both in his book and a lot of the interviews he gave during the presidential race about the fallen nature of political conversation. it's a theme at this table, it's a theme on jon stewart's show every night. >> rose: right. >> and i think it should be
discussed and... because the... again the confluence of political division and anger with technology and speed has caused this kind of excel rating hysteria. and i don't think civility is the only virtue in discourse. i think we have to have a rigorous discourse, sometimes an insulting discourse, sometimes a rhetoric that even goes to too far to go far enough. but the level of excess among responsible people, politicians first and foremost but also the cable news network and all the rest of it... generically not cnn is out of control. and it's ridiculous and it degrades political thought and discussion. and we absolutely should have that conversation. again, not at the cost of rigor and analysis and passion and it's not necessarily the only
order value in conversation but it's got to be one that is present. >> rose: okay, david brooks, do you agree with that? the column you wrote today was too many people were too quick to point the finger and that that was wrong and to point the finger at sarah palin or point the finger at someone else, not because they were connected to this incident but because they were part of a rhetoric that went beyond. >> well, my sort of moral anguish was caused by the fact that so many people immediately used this instance as a way to attack sarah palin and the tea party movement and it became an occasion for partisan attack, not quite the opposite. while people were claiming to criticize viciousness they were themselves being vicious. i do think if you divorce this case, obviously this is barack obama's great strength and why people more on the conservative side like me were tremendously drawn to him. because he personally enjoys the conversation with people who disagree with him and that's one of his great strengths. i do think... we all have
reasons about why partisanship is so high and there are many of them. i think one of the things that's happened is that as ethnic and other communal bonds have withdrawn, partisanship has left thin. so for a lot of people their political party is their ethnicity. and any compromise with their ethnicity is dishonorable and they react with a ferocity. and so that's a deep communal process. i do think in washington people, including the president speaking in many private and public realms is drawn into the conflict between the teams-- the republican team and the democratic team. i ran into a freshman just a few days ago, first day of congress, had just been sworn in and just in casual conversation he spoke about the members of the other party as if they were subhuman and literally said these people couldn't seriously care about children, they're just faking it. and this is a freshman coming in on his first day. so that mentality is deeply ingrained and a good speech
condemning it will be fine and useful but the real need is to continually struggle against the team mentality which dominates so much of just everyday life in washington. >> rose: do you think that the president had an opportunity that he did not seize in order to make a real contribution to the civil discourse that we're talking about and to exhibit those things that he spoke about and those things he believed in? >> he was laughed out of court! remember the attack on fox news? i mean, it might not have been as smoothly done as one would have liked but there was an attempt by the obama administration-- a very concerted attempt, anita dunn, david axelrod and even the president-- to either freeze out or do a critique of the rhetoric of fox news and whether, in fact they're news at all and all the rest of the critique that you see elsewhere in the media and it was laughed out of court by a lot of people. >> rose: that's no reason to stop because it's laughed out of court. >> well, politics is a reason to stop. now you see on superbowl sunday
the big interview for the president of the united states will be conducted by bill o'reilly. >> rose: for a reason, fox is carrying the superbowl. >> yes, indeed, but he can give an interview to anybody he wants or not give an interview to anybody he wants and o'riley compared to glenn beck is eric sevareid. (laughter) >> on the business of opportunities instead of tone, as we all know, politics is partly planning and partly unplanned circumstance and i think that there was a planning part early i don't know the president on the financial relief thought he was dealing trying to deal with the republicans and it didn't work because of the nature of their game plan at the time. there was one famous anecdote i heard from a friend working capitol hill. this person was dealing with a democratic senator talking with a republican counterpart and the republican is saying we want this in the bill, that in the bill and the democrat is saying if we give you that will you vote for it? he said no, i can't vote for it. so there was that sort of
circumstance he was against. now this is a different circumstance, a tragedy in public life but it may give the president a momentary opportunity to again as we've all said deal in the registered and most natural and eloquent to him to position himself about the divisiveness of this tragedy and find some way there is a common american theme. it won't be easy but this is an opportunity for him. >> rose: if you were writing the speech what would you... go ahead, david brooks? >> i would just echo that. the first two years we had a financial crisis he felt or did have to pass a lot of things very quickly. there wasn't a lot of time to have serious negotiations he never had mitch mcconnell, the most important republican in the white house until the fall or at least late summer so he made some gestures to the republicans but not a lot. but that was a time where he had to ram through a lot of stuff quickly. now a divided congress, much less need for rush and i think there's a renewed opportunity to do at least more things in a bipartisan way. >> exactly.
the test now s now and it's a prolonged test. you have the real division between congress and the presidency and this may go on not for two years but right through the election and through six years if he's reelected and i think chances of his being reelected are very good and the chances of the republicans holding on the the house and even getting the senate going ahead are quite good, too. >> rose: do we know with john hingley or whoever there might be who attempted or successfully assassinated a political figure that there was a direct link between their own mind seth and the litical rhetoric of the time? >> you know, i would argue that the one case in which you can say that was john wilkes booth with abraham lincoln. that was clearly civil war drama and conspiracy. i would use the analogy between the assassination attempts on gerald ford by sarah moore and lynnette "squeaky" fropl that had no detectable connection to anything, especially politics of that era, and the assassinations
of the 1960s where while there were some mad men involved in their... as always is the case of sirhan sirhan. he was both mad and... on the palestinian issue. the general political temper of those times must have had something to do with those assassinations. i think that's aningment one can make here, too. >> i think you look at racism as a motivation for assassinations throughout the civil rights movement and before and you see a very causal relation. again, but then we get into the murky waters of how unbalanced people process the unbalanced rhetoric or the overheated rhett riblg that's out there. and then i think we get into the complicated waters that are best left to psychologists or novelists and maybe not political pundits. >> rose: to make the distinction was that about the political rhetoric or was that about fear? >> well, i think it's all these things, that's what i'm suggesting. we can't be the enemy of the complex here. how a sick person processes the
political atmosphere around him or her and then acts on it is a very complex thing to analyze and not something to do with zero evidence, in the case of this recent assassination and mass killing in tucson. >> fine book by fuller... e. fuller tory and he runs through our... the history of this and he describes a lot of the classic symptoms of people who are about to go off and do something and, again, it's a very small minority of those mentally ill. most people just want to be left alone. but among the common symptom which is this laughlin fellow seems to have also had was a sense that their world historical figures are going to do something big on the world stage, a sense of frustrations, all the normal things, but among those who commit what they call rampage killings where somebody goes in and starts shooting randomly, a reasonly high percentage of them are done by
people suffering some sort of severe mental illness. >> this guy did seem to have the congresswoman on his mind. >> he did. >> he'd gone to the town meeting and asked her if words had meetings but he wouldn't say he had her on his mind because she voted for or against health care or immigration. that was his own obsession. >> you look at the manifesto of the unabomber and on one level it seems like the bad political writing that any editor might reject on a given day's work but it doesn't necessarily seem absolutely insane. so how somebody acts on these thoughts and half-baked ideas and gleanings from the atmosphere and the media and all the rest to say nothing of the feelings in his teeth is really hard for us to make a snap judgment about. >> we're all in businesses where in different ways we deal with the general public and it's my experience over the years that at times of more frayed
political sentiment in general i get more nutty-sounding phone calls and messages from people i don't know and am often worried about. worried that i hope they don't know where i am than in calmer times. so if that's true for people who are... i assume... has that happened to any of the rest of you? do you see that correlation. >> yes. >> rose: absolutely. >> i think it depends what you write about. there are certain subjects that just bring out the anger in people. i mean you write about the middle east, you get a certain amount of craziness on all sides, a fever on all sides. and there are other subjects, during the campaign the same thing. >> we should emphasize there's a big thys tings to be made between rhetoric and actual acts of violence. people have studied this up the wazoo and the link between action and rhetoric and violence is extremely murky, even the link between video games and violent, between violent movies, there seems to be, i'd say, the prevalence of evidence is that it has some modest effect toward violence but in any individual
case it would be impossible to tease out. >> rose: there's something about this moment that has made this thing have a particular deep anguish. >> well, i think that's what we're trying to be guarded against. in other words, by taking this incident and making it stand for something else directly i think is something to be wary of. separate from it to have a conversation... a serious and prolonged conversation about political rhetoric where whether it's on the internet or on cable t.v. or in the... god forbid in the printed press and elsewhere. that's something to have. but, again, as we started out saying, i'm very wary to take this occasion and directly tie it to that because then you're making suppositions. >> rose: my next question was is this somehow really... elements of this personality and the character of the person that the attempt was made against,
arizona or what? anything has made this different? not that there's a connection to violence but this seems to have a deeper resonance than some... >> a cast of characters where you had this very attractive and apparently beloved by all sides congresswoman who was the central victim. you have a child who has died. you have a federal judge who has died. a congressman's husband being an astronaut. you have all the connotations of the alaska fray. you have citizen heroes of various walks of life being stop... topping this shooter. the different page picture we were stunned by this morning of the person himself. i think that his... there are surplus drama here to make this as riveting an event as it has been. >> i think it also does say politicians can behave better or worse in situations like this. i didn't find... for example, during the campaign john mccain was taking questions from the crowd and he got a question from a woman who clearly was deeply
uninformed at best and she said "obama's an arab" and this that and the other thing. and despite what i saw as mccain's bad behavior throughout a lot of the campaign, a lot of >> rose: term moment and all the rest. >> he at least had the decency-- and i think a clarifying decency-- to say "no, in fact, he's not that, he's this. he should have also said that if even f he were a muslim it wouldn't make any difference. a point that colin powell made very eloquentfully his endorsement moment. but i think politicians have a huge responsibility and that's why tomorrow will be a very indicative day about barack obama and where we go with this conversation. >> rose: if david... because you've written about the brain and what you have said about mental illness today is it possible that this is where something deeper will come out of it? some sense that we have to
recognize when we see this earlier and that somehow this might imprint on all of us the notion that don't leave unnoticed and unconnected when we see someone that clearly seems to be disturbed and might go over the deep end. >> well, first there's a lesson for people in our business which is we are all very attuned to talking about politics. we're not attuned to talking about psychology. and we're not well trained in that and i include myself in that. and so i do think when you looked at the press reaction i think if there were more people on staff who had taken even a month course at a school to sort of get the basic layout to know who to call i think that would have helped. but i do think-- and this is tory's point-- that we really have had a bipartisan movement this which in california was launched by ronald reagan, by the way, aided by ronald reagan to basically say people who are suffering from mental illness it's up to them to make the choices for their own lives. and one understands that impulse but if they're refusing to take
medications, if they're left out in the street very often they're put in jail, huge numbers of people with severe mental illnesses because we don't have mental hospitals or whatever, we just stick them in jail. where they're a danger to themselves and to their fellow inmates. and so the treatment of people with severe mental illness who are being untreated is a great crime in this country. and various people... i remember patrick kennedy, various other people have tried to raise this in the political sphere but relatively little effect. and it's a very controversial issue in the health care debate but this would be, i think, a reminder to really pay attention to those issues. >> that is a theme where he could have... divorce it entirely from the politics of the moment because all americans have been affected by this more schoolyard shootings than we can remember. whether it was in columbine or paducah or any place else and he can present this as the same kind of problem, of how we deal with this mental illness and people who are disturbed, the virginia tech shooting. a that's something i think
everybody could be connected to and that perhaps is a way to have a unifying theme. >> rose: thank you, jim. david remnick, barack obama "the bridge" "the bridge" being the title now out in paper back, as i said earlier. i recommend it. "the science of everyday life" david brooks on why we make the choices we do in the "new yorker" magazine. thank you. thank you all of you. back in a moment and we'll talk about profiling the kind of people and the kind of person we're talking about. stay with us. >> rose: we move now to a closer look at jared lee loughner. he is a suspect in the shootings he faces federal charges of murder and attempted murder. many questions remain about him and his mental health. joining me now is dr. jeffrey liebermann, chairman of psychiatry at columbia university and of the new york state psychiatric institute. from washington, roger depue.
he's a former chief of the f.b.i.'s behavioral sciences unit and the founder of the academy group. i am pleased also to have him. let me first go to roger depue and talk about the profiles of people who do this and what... how does he fit any particular profile and what as things are coming out do you notice about this man? >> well, it's hard to talk about a specific profile. there are significant differences between them. however there are warning signs that generally exist in the background of the individual before the shooting takes place and that's the case with this gentleman as well as people like cho in the virginia tech case. >> rose: what kinds of things are you talking about?
>> well, i would say the... there are about 25 things that we call warning signs. i frame it this way, charlie: i say that first you have a fantasy in most of these cases and the fantasy exists and it has to do with... you know, in a mentally disturbed person with very bizarre things that you can't really... you can't really formulate what his motive is necessarily. but many of them-- like harris and klebold-- are not mentally disturbed, at least not psychotic. they're in control of themselves and they're... that situation is more... i would more describe that situation as evil. and the things that you're looking for there is a fantasy and the fantasy... if you believe in something intensely then there's something that i
call leakage, and that is that you... that it will leak out of you somewhere, you know? that it seeps out either in conscious or subconscious ways and if you're trained to look at that leakage you can see that there's a propensity for danger there. some people do it it in intuitive ways as in this case the peers and the students and the professors, they pick up on this, especially the students, you know? and they say, "boy, this guy is weird and he's frightening." and i wouldn't be surprised if he comes back into the school with a weapon and begins to kill people. so this leakage takes place and then the leakage itself is a warning sign. it becomes a red flag or indicators, warning signs and
they're there and they're visible and they're almost there in every case. usually when one of these situations happen the... you'll hear in the media that this was a nice quiet boy that never created any problem but then after a few days go by we begin to see that there were a number of these indicators, warning signs. cho or harris and klebold, of course, had a web site where... it was just filled with angry denunciations of classmates and people in general and how they would like to kill people. so some of the things that we would look for and what we would see and hear, if there are 25 general indicators, this shooter had about 10 or 12 of the 25. and there were things like anger
you know? people describe him as angry. interested in weapons, firearms. being aa loaner. having some suicidal ideation, and some homicidal ideation. non-compliance with disciplinary or... either noncompliance or disciplinary problems. kind of a... what a call a victim/martyr self-concept, you know? the idea that he's a victim and that goes along with this feeling of paranoia. and that he needs to do something to make a mark. strangeness, as i mentioned, inappropriate affect. you know, laughing at things that people can't figure out what he's laughing at or laughing at inappropriate things. and then just acting out,
previous police contact, mental health problems and often times use of alcohol and drugs. so those would be some of the things. >> rose: help us understand from just the... a professional's point of view what do we know about causes of this... this clearly is an example to you looking at the manifestations of this of a mental illness. >> well, we have to only speculate so let me qualify my comments by saying. >> rose: you haven't examined or talked to the person. >> exactly. so we don't have a history, we haven't examined him. but there's, i think, sufficient information that's available by virtue of people who knew him, students who were classmates with him, teachers, what his parents reported, his post-ings on the internet, his youtube to say that a high probability or almost a certainty that he suffered from a severe mental disorder. almost certainly psychotic
disorder and of the psychotic disorders the most likely candidate given his age and his men necessary stations is schizophrenia. so my presumptive analysis... when roger was talking about the indicators, you can break down a political assassination or this kind of wanton violence coming from three categories. someone's a rabid ideologue like the captain at fort hood who killed people and was motivated by his zeal for islam. you can have the sociopath like charles manson was. or you can be a psychotic individual who's impelled by your delusions and hallucinations and disjointed thinking to commit an act of violence. >> rose: and do you... and feeling like someone else is guiding you. is that part of it? >> absolutely. you're impelled by your internal mental process mainly coming from unreal often bizarre thoughts and false perceptions. >> because you have... do you have a biological point here?
>> yes. psychotic disorders including schizophrenia are known to have a genetic ideology and biologic basis. it involves at the most immediate level a chemical dysfunction where there's an overactivety of a neurotransmitter that mediates these mental processes. and that's why one of the things that's so effective in trying to mitigate the symptoms and control the illness and prevent tragic complications of the illness like suicide, like violence, like murder, is medication. >> rose: are there lots of people walking around? >> more than you would ever know. and i don't want to sound alarmist. but the occurrence of these tragic, sseless, violent episodes going back in recent time to the virginia tech massacre to the unabomber ted kaczynski to john hinckley, to
david berkowitz, son of sam, colin ferguson who prompted carolyn mccarthy to run for congress. >> rose: on the long island railroad. >> that's right. so all of these were mentally ill people who committed these tragic events. now, it happens with such regularity-- albeit not everyday but maybe every month, every year-- that one can almost calculate the frequency with an actuarial table. and we have, given the fact that three things exist in our society, one is a lack of general awareness within the population about mental disorders, two, the inadequacy of mental health care services in general and, three, the availability of firearms we have basically an array of what i would call ticking time bombs. >> rose: but what causes the bomb to go off.
what causes what... is the red line that people cross so that they go get a gun and shoot somebody? >> well, these are events that nobody can predict when they'll occur. but you can predict in whom they're most likely to be perm traited by. the criteria, roger said, are called risk factors. so rare events like the black swan that occurred in the financial crisis can be calculated but they don't occur very often. so when do they occur in people who are mentally ill? they occur when they're not taking their treatment and they've dropped out or refused treatment, when they go off their medication, when their symptoms get exacerbated and this often occurs in a setting of taking recreational drugs. so loughner dabbled in drugs, used marijuana. these inflamed the symptoms. so the risk factors associated with violence in people with
mental illness-- and this is not characteristic of the population as a whole, but a small segment of people with severe mental illness-- are generally young males, diagnosis of a psychotic disorder frequently with paranoid delusions using recreational drugs, frequently homeless and having kind of a rootless life-style and it's... if you get into it they have a past history of violence and symptoms the contents of which suggest... >> rose: and increasing paranoia. >> yes. >> rose: do you find that they normally, roger, focus on somebody? that somehow in some unknown process or known process there's a fixation on someone perhaps it might have happened here with congresswoman giffords? >> that's true that sometimes there's a fixation. it can be on an institution or an individual.
i look at it as kind of developmental, you know? it looks like there's a... an escalation that occurs. and as dr. lieberman said in this case he... loughner was described as fairly normal and then in just the last year or so you see this deterioration, this disorganization beginning and it's becoming worse and worse as it goes along. and then in psychosis like he had, he's now beginning to attribute blame to persons and institutions and becoming more and more angry at the system, whatever it might be. and so then something can
trigger it. now in this case as i understand it he had asked a question of the congresswoman a couple of years before and he was upset by her answer, he didn't think that she addressed the issue that he was... that he was talking about. well, that can be the beginning, you know? and then he thinks about that, he ruminates, he fantasizes about it and that's something that's in the mix. >> but at the same time it can also be random. people can commit acts of violence against perfect strangers that they've never seen before because the voices in their head are telling them that this person is going to attack them. there's one point that i'd like to make pertaining to the earlier segment that you were talking with david brooks and david remnick about. >> rose: yes. >> much of the debate in the media around this incident has centered on the role of the vitriolic political discourse
that may have fomented this violence. and although this degree of sort of uncivility in our political discussions is not desirable, i think it's a red herring in this case. >> rose: why is that? >> i think if this person were not mentally ill it's much less likely if not unlikely that this event ever would have occurred. the key causal factor in my opinion is the fact that this was a mentally ill individual who is not receiving treatment who, as roger said, had deteriorated over the course of the past year possibly because of his recreational drug use and therefore was sort of unstable and at risk for acting impulsively in response to his psychotic symptoms. >> rose: so what would be a precipitating fact tor act? i've asked this earlier. to act as he did. >> exactly what roger was saying. he is sitting there
misperceiving the way the world is treating him thinking he's being demeaned, abused, depressed, oppressed, and he then feels like he's got to act in some way to try and reverse that situation or he may be having actual voices which are telling him to... >> rose: and there's no sense of right and wrong. >> no. well there could be a sense of right or wrong. that's really a legal issue in terms of whether insanity is a... >> rose: no, right or wrong in terms of killing people is either right or wrong. that's a wrong... that's what i mean. >> well, i would say that his ability to be constrained by his moral compass of whether is something is right or wrong can be overcome by these symptoms. >> rose: here is one thing that the "new york times" reported is that his behavior is becoming erratic over the last year underscored by the fear that two of his closest friends were planning to kill him, one of the friends said yesterday. he did not have many friends said his friend, who met mr. loughner in high school. we stopped talking to him in
march of 2010. he started getting weird. roger, you've heard that kind of thing before. the paranoia of getting weirder. >> yes. and, you know there are many... there are many things that are flashing through the of a psychotic person and any one of those things can be the impulse that catches his attention at a particular time and he just goes off in that direction. for instance, he said in the past according to his web site something like wow, i'm glad i didn't kill myself. well, there's an element of suicide that's in there somewhere. and then he says "i'll see you on national t.v." that's interesting. "i'll see you on national t.v." coupled with "i'm glad i didn't
kill myself." so now we have kind of a thing that we had with cho where he's going to do something that's big you know, that's very important and he sees himself as now being on television. cho sent, as you know, he sent a... this manifesto of his with photographs to nbc news and he wanted the world to know that he was a martyr and a and a hero to the oppressed so you see that kind of thing now. jared loughner also said something like this: "i don't feel good, i'm ready to kill a police officer." well, you know, where does that come from?
well, it may come from the school situation at community college where he had about five run-ins with the police, at least five contacts with the police. so that's stored somewhere in his brain. on any given day he might be suicidal and on any given day he might resurrect that thought about the police and the police become the target. you see what i'm saying, charlie? >> rose: i do, roger. and i should take note of the fact that when you refer to the virginia tech case that you at the request of governor kaine sat on the review panel which was formed to examine the events leading up to that so you speak with some insight and... on that particular case. without any reflection on any group of any particular kind, let's make that clear. is there any connection between sort of the rhetoric period of any kind and a mentally ill person committing a violent act? >> the environment that jared
loughner existed in, and any mentally ill person exists in does influence their behavior but it does so in the way roger is describing in a ways which idiosyncratic and not typical of the way it would necessarily influence non-psychotic individuals. so you can say that loughner was sort of incited to do something by the political rhetoric. but it's... it would not have incited someone who was not unstable. >> so it's an explosive combination. go ahead, roger. >> that's an excellent point. i've been asked this question about movies and the media and the negative impact of violence and... in the... in these areas which is much more profound and
significant than a little political rhetoric and what i basically say is that most people can handle it. most people can deal with it. normal stable individuals, they can see it for what it is and they can deal with it. but if a person is predisposed fora person is psychotic or if he's having these dangerous fantasies and something like that comes along it can trigger it, the cause him to go off in that direction. >> rose: thank you very much, roger, a pleasure to have on you on the program. i thank you from driving up to our washington stutd owe and i take note again of you're former chief of the f.b.i. behavioral sciences unit and became the first administrator of the f.b.i.'s national center for analysis of violent crime and have a ph.d. and dr. jeffrey lieberman who was here on our brain series and is at columbia university. thank you, pleasure.